Characteristics of Culture – Definition, Examples and Elements

Characteristics of Culture

“Daadi, why do you still eat your food, even rice with your hands, without a spoon?”

“Because that’s part of the ancient Indian culture, dear Mahima”

Characteristics of Culture

According to Google, the word ‘culture’ means, the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively, or the ideas, customs and social behaviour of a group of particular persons or society.

In simple words, culture comprises the characteristic features of everyday existence. It refers to a set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and social practices. Culture is acquired and passes from generation to generation. Culture can also be rephrased as a set of habits.

Regarding its importance, culture is a necessity; however, being obsessive to one’s own culture could lead to slight ethnocentric thoughts. Lack of culture might often be seen as a cause of the birth of barbarianism and philistinism.

Precisely, the people sharing the same culture have definite and relatable patterns of behaviour, the accent of speech, active vocabulary, eating habits and many more common characteristics.

Culture – An Umbrella Term

The Google definition of an umbrella term is, a word or phrase that covers a wide range of concepts belonging to a common category. The umbrella is symbolic of common categorization, unanimity and oneness with regards to rough ideas.

Culture isn’t a static feature of society, it keeps evolving, going through minor changes from time to time and then gone through a major change over a larger period of time. Culture encompasses numerous parameters such as:

  • Norms
  • Capabilities
  • Habits
  • Lifestyle
  • Diversity

Culture enables sociologists to define a group of people collectively, address them by the common characteristics they share.

Culture – Religion – Tradition

India, as a gigantic country, both, in its geographic extents and the population, is country of diversity and versatility. It is one cultural group with different religions and hence traditions. However, emigrants might bring amendments in one’s way of thinking, living, and acting to situations gradually bringing change in the all-over idea of culture.

Culture, being developed by us, is a representative of heritage rather than inheritance. However, culture and religion join hands at some point, have synonymous characteristics, but they aren’t the same thing altogether.

Culture is the way of living, the way a particular human is born and brought-up which depends upon the atmosphere. The upbringing of an individual also alters culture.

It defines human behaviour in a specific space and is seen as a whole. Tradition is a practice being done continually over the years due to beliefs and customs, which dictates human behaviour only on special occasions.

Customs bring-in the idea of religion relates to holy or sacred thoughts. One’s belief in supernatural powers and giving names to the same is the cause of evolvement of religion. However, culture and tradition related to social activities, religion is more of a spiritual entity, but since it influences masses, it has social elements too.

The culture of a person might change as and when he travels and also over time, but, the religion is a belief that stays with him till his last breath. This implies, not following traditions leads to change in culture, accompanied by lowering spiritual interests, but, however, religion subsides.

Selecting the festival which is to be celebrated depends upon the rigidity of religion, celebrating it in a particular way, cooking fixed menu and performing activities of art, beauty, chanting prayers and mantras, carrying out rituals, and acts depicting heritage involves culture and performing the rituals the same way each year or each time the festivity thrives, comes under tradition.

Characteristics of Culture

The following are the characteristics of ‘culture’:-

  • Learned

It does not spread like wildfire but is a slow process that undergoes changes during the passage.

  • Inter-related

Depends upon geographical location,  exposure to social and educational institutions and mindset.

  • Adaptive

As a consequence of it being learned, it can be adaptive, which means, it can be favourable to be followed.

  • Dynamic phenomenon

Culture, being a characteristic feature of life, changes constantly, representing Darwin’s theory of Survival of The Fittest. Implicitly, if one does not adapt to the new ‘ways of life’ and follows obsolete methods, one will not be able to survive.

Culture depends on the following parameters:-

  • Exposure to different cultures and nationalities
  • Media
  • Education
  • Progress and change in one’s outlook


When we, Indians, visit or immigrate to foreign countries, we have appearances, complexions, accent, way of eating and certain other peculiarities by which we are recognized by the local citizens.

Surprisingly, they recognize us by the difference in cultures due to the difference in nationality. Culture could also be a consequence of biological evolution, say the sociology scientists.

Culture, in non-fancy terminology, can be defined as a way of thinking, behaving, or working in a place or organization. It involves the enlightenment and excellence of tastes acquired by intellectual and aesthetic training.

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